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Did Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” Plagiarize Other Music?

Coldplay - Viva La VidaColdplay – Viva La Vida

Courtesy EMI

Plagiarism in pop music has been a major issue since George Harrison lost a suit in 1981 on the grounds of “subconsciously plagiarizing” the melody of the Chiffons’ “He’s So Fine” on his #1 hit “My Sweet Lord.” However, it is a rare situation that a song is the subject of multiple plagiarism accusations.

Upon its release in May 2008, Coldplay’s song “Viva La Vida” received almost instant critical acclaim, and it soon began climbing the charts. However, it was not long before the song became dogged by the first of public claims that it may have plagiarized already existing music. Three serious claims have been made public against the song. One has been retracted, but two are yet to be resolved.

Creaky Boards

Within months of release of “Viva La Vida,” a band named Creaky Boards claimed that the song copied their own song called “The Songs I Didn’t Write.” One of the band members believed Coldplay’s Chris Martin had been in the audience in October 2007 when Creaky Boards performed their song live. A video was released on YouTube detailing the accusations. In June 2008 Coldplay issued a categorical denial that included evidence that Chris Martin was working in the studio in London on the date in question when Creaky Boards performed live. The band also produced evidence that “Viva La Vida” had been written and demoed seven months before October 2007. Creaky Boards later retracted their allegations.

Read more from The Independent

Joe Satriani

The next plagiarism accusation involving “Viva La Vida” appeared on December 4, 2008 when rock guitarist Joe Satriani filed a copyright infringement suit against Coldplay in Los Angeles, California. This complaint states that “Viva La Vida” incorporates “substantial original portions” of the instrumental composition “If I Could Fly” released in 2004 by Satriani. A very extensive music theory based analysis of the controversy was prepared by Creative Guitar Studio. Once again Coldplay issued a statement categorically denying any plagiarism. The band says that all similarities between the musical compositions are completely coincidental. Despite Coldplay’s claims, Joe Satriani has not withdrawn his complaint.

Read more from MSNBC.

Yusuf Islam (aka Cat Stevens)

The most recent complaint of plagiarism by “Viva La Vida” has appeared in statements made by Yusuf Islam (aka Cat Stevens). In May 2009 he told the Reuters news service, “My son brought it to my attention and said: ‘Doesn’t that sound like ‘Foreigner Suite?'” Islam says that indeed it does, but he has stopped short of filing a copyright suit. When he was asked about legal proceedings, Islam stated, “It depends on how well Satriani does.” A comparison of the two songs has been released on YouTube.


September 18, 2009 - Posted by | 1

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